(Reuters) – Factbox on the Russia squad for the Rugby World Cup in Japan, where they will compete in Pool A:
World ranking: 20
Russia will be appearing at a second Rugby World Cup after their debut in 2011, having benefitted from sanctions handed down to Romania and Spain for fielding ineligible players in the Rugby Europe Championship that served as a qualifier.
It catapulted Russia to top spot in the championship and on the plane to Japan, where they are not fancied to get a maiden World Cup victory.
They have shown some signs of promise in recent years with wins over fellow qualifiers Namibia (twice) and Canada but a 85-15 loss to Italy last month revealed they still have plenty of frailties.
Russia will feature in the opening game of the tournament against Japan looking to gatecrash the host nation’s party with an upset.
They have only managed to beat the Brave Blossoms once in six previous meetings, however, and that 43-34 victory came back in 2003.
The vast majority of Russia’s squad play in the home Professional Rugby League.
Lyn Jones (Wales)
Jones is a former flanker for Wales who won five caps – all in 1993 – and has been in charge of the Russian team since November 2018, having previously led Neath to the Welsh Premiership and Ospreys to the Celtic League title (twice).
Lock Ostrikov is the most experienced member of the Russian side and a survivor of their 2011 Rugby World Cup campaign, with coach Jones likely to rely heavily on his leadership on the pitch.
Ostrikov joined Sale Sharks in 2011 and despite some injury set-backs, played 146 times for the English Premiership club before leaving at the end of last season for French side Grenoble.
Also able to slot in at blindside flank, Ostrikov will be a key set-piece exponent for Russia and a powerful runner with ball in hand.
Captain: Vasily Artemyev
Forwards – Azamat Bitiev, Andrey Garbuzov, Kirill Gotovtsev, Victor Gresev, Bogdan Fedotko, Vitaliy Zhivatov, Evgeny Matveev, Andrey Polivalov, Vladimir Podrezov, Evgeny Yelgin, Stanislav Selsky, Nikita Vavilin, Sergey Chernyshev, Tagir Gadzhiev, Roman Khodin, Andrei Ostrikov, Valery Morozov, Anton Sychev
Backs – Vasily Artemyev, Igor Galinovsky, Kirill Golosnitsky, Vasily Dorofeev, Yuri Kushnarev, German Davydov, Dmitry Perov, Vladislav Sozonov, Dmitry Gerasimov, Ramil Gaysin, Denis Simplikevich, Vladimir Ostroushko, Sergey Yanyushkin
W – 0, L – 4, D – 0
Last World Cup: Pool stage (2011)
Best finish: Pool stage (2011)
WORLDCUPPOOL A FIXTURES
Sept 20 Japan v Russia Tokyo
Sept 24 Russia v Samoa Kumagaya
Oct 3 Ireland v Russia Kobe
Oct 9 Scotland v Russia Fukuroi
RESULTS IN 2019
Feb 10 Spain 16-14 Russia
Feb 16 Russia 64-7 Belgium
Mar 2 Germany 18-26 Russia
Mar 9 Romania 22-20 Russia
Mar 17 Russia 6-22 Georgia
June 4 Uruguay 48-26 Russia
June 15 Namibia 0-20 Russia
Aug 17 Italy 85-15 Russia
(Compiled by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru and Nick Said; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)